Patch: Why did you decide to run for a seat on the Nyack School Board?
Marshall: Essentially to give back. I wanted to step up and use my experience and background as a trustee [on other boards] to improve the school district. Nyack Schools have done such a fantastic job molding my own children.
What individual perspective do you believe you can bring to the position?
I live in a minority community, and am a minority myself, so I have a specific understanding of that. I am often struck by some of the concerns that don’t get to the board from the ESL community—some of their issues often don't get put on the table. Using my own local community meetings, I can make sure their issues are heard.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the Nyack School District right now and in the immediate future?
One of the most pressing are the budget cuts we've experienced, especially in the special education area. We had to reduce staff—we lost teaching assistants and special education assistants.
The other things: most of the community feels the board could dramatically improve communication with the general public, improve the format of board meetings and improve communication with various bargaining units.
Should you be elected, what would you hope the School Board can accomplish?
One of the things we can do is engage local legislature more. Ultimately, we can't rely on tax revenue—it's affecting all districts, and Nyack is not unique. Clarkstown has had budget cuts, and Nanuet has had cuts, too. We need to stop what's happening in Albany and hopefully have some folk come back who have been laid off.
What is your message to the voters?
The most important thing that needs to be understood: we may not all agree—Nyack is such a diverse community—but we can't allow disagreements to stagnate innovation or vision.
We really need to look at what unites us so we can move forward and make Nyack the premiere district in the county. Good things are happening—we have a new superintendent with strong vision and leadership—and we need to focus on moving forward.
Voters can contact Marshall at James.firstname.lastname@example.org